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Darwin Correspondence Project


To the Geological Society of London   27 March 1837

It appears that the principal object of Mr Williams’1 paper is to support the conclusions already arrived at by Prof: Sedgwick and Mr Murchison.2 The chief point of additional evidence is the discovery of numerous barnacles, beneath the sandstone strata, adhering to the ancient rocks, and elevated between five and ten feet above the living ones. Mr Williams adduces also, as a proof of disturbance the changed course of the Taw, as observed by tracing certain beds of gravel.

The most interesting part of the paper is the description of the subsided forest, near Watchet in North Somersetshire. This appears of more importance, than the case of Pembrokeshire, alluded to by Prof: S. and Mr Murchison, because it is both nearer the described localities, and falls within the area, more particularly marked out as one of elevation.— These opposite movements3 are adduced as proofs, that we must look to changes of level, rather in the land, than in the water.—

I should, therefore on the above grounds, suggest that Mr Williams’ paper, in a shortened form, should be printed in the Transactions, immediately after that of Prof: Sedgwick & Mr Murchison.—4

C. Darwin March 27th | 1837.


David Williams.
See Sedgwick and Murchison 1840, pp. 279–86 (read 14 December 1836).
Beaches rising and forests sinking.
CD’s suggestion was followed (see D. Williams 1840).

Letter details

Letter no.
Darwin, C. R.
Geological Society of London
Sent from
London, Gt Marlborough St, 36
Source of text
Geological Society (P4/2)
Physical description


Recommends David Williams’ paper on raised beaches of Devon [David Williams, "Letter … on the raised beaches of Barnstaple", Trans. Geol. Soc. Lond. 2d ser. 5 (1840): 287–8] be shortened and published immediately after Sedgwick’s and Murchison’s paper ["Description of a raised beach in Barnstaple", ibid., pp. 279–86] as chief point of paper is to support their conclusions.

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 352,” accessed on 31 May 2016,